What is the synaptic fluid of social business?
Today, questions about the nature of human connectivity are becoming central of what constitutes and creates personal, commercial and social value in the digital economy. How will leaders connect with stakeholders in order to be able to do their jobs, and what are the appropriate business models with which to develop connectivity to build digital businesses?
Many organizations are yet to integrate the benefits of network effects fully into their business models and, as I watched discussions on social media at Davos last week from the comfort of my own desk, what I observed was a group of decision-makers becoming increasingly aware of the impact it’s going to have. For the first time, there was the realisation that when they make their decisions there may be, at least metaphorically, other people in the room. Digital business is ushering in a shift, going from messages to experiences.
So, C level curiosity around the subject has been aroused, and is becoming palpable, but whether it’s a pandora’s box or a burning platform is for many unidentified and uncertain. The tremors around what may be a new world order that are equally evident.
Don Tapscott mentioned in the Davos session that ‘companies have to undress for success’, that the ethics matter as much as the technology. Blatant integrity is a phrase we use here at Visceral Business in which a digital footprint that is accountable might be better, more nuanced and more appropriate route to value in a networked era.
From ‘Veni vidi vici’, Julius Ceasar and the first days of empire, we now have ‘ipod, iphone, ipad’. This is the liberation of the individual through gadgetry, and how business will evolve to meet the demands of a wired up generation will be an iterative process.
Carver Mead, a leading computer scientist at the California Institute of Technology, once said, “Listen to the technology; find out what it’s telling you.” Biz Stone has said the same thing about Twitter. At a NESTA session in December, Biz talked about how he’s spent the last two years listening to Twitter, telling him what it wants to be.
Technology is a finite game that will ultimately solve all the problems it’s capable of addressing, as Jaron Larnier has written and spoken about lately. What’s a more infinite game are the opportunities of human connectivity and all the shades of creation possible to conceive collectively.
A very modern form of disenfranchisement, being denied a networked identity or ‘no platforming’, may become an ultimate social sanction in the next century. Banishment from the cloud may have the same tarnish as the casting out of convicts to far-flung reaches two hundred years ago.
Chris Brogan’s ‘The Third Tribe’ community launched this week. The subscription price doesn’t create a community, it creates a service, and with that comes a different kind of ambience. My friend Ed Brenegar’s put it like this ‘popularity in a free environment does not necessarily equate to value in a paid one’.
As Davos may be discussing however, one way or another social connectivity means that the cost equations have changed. Purchase and purpose are more closely related, and investment might take many forms and come in many currencies – time given, attention focused, and contributions made digitally, as well as cold, hard, and more orthodox cash.
There are causes today that are redefining what participation in not-for-profit initiatives can mean and what it’s capable of achieving. There are communities worth investing in heavily simply because of the quality of the leadership and freedom of connection. The currency of trust is also gaining ground as the synaptic fluid of social business.
For anyone interested in the monetary value of social connectivity, it’s in value delivery, knowing the limits of gatekeeping, of brokerage and how service and facilitation which is free plays a part in delivering sustainable value.
There are a number of industries looking at digital business as an important item on the corporate agenda. Together with public service management looking to adapt in face of budget cutbacks, and healthcare developing insights in new ways to make R&D cheaper, they all represent areas of our economy that will benefit from streamlining. Digital business thinking can remove overhead, social and digital networks can reduce dependencies on pump-primed marketing and advertising that is expensive and difficult to sustain as an activity.
The old business models are yielding fewer returns. As an antidote to the velocity of today’s overloaded information flows, generative listening and developing the action potential of committed, visceral and trustworthy human relationships lies at the heart of the social connections. It has never been more important. It’s the synaptic fluid of social business.